Is fluoride toothpaste safe for my child? This question has been haunting parents for years now and the answer lies in your child’s age. Children younger than 3 years shouldn’t use more than the size of a grain of rice, as toddlers swallowing toothpaste is common. For children who are 3 and above a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste provides excellent benefits. While the debate on whether fluoride toothpaste for kids is good or not hasn’t been resolved yet, the American Dental Association recommends its use for kids to prevent cavities. Let’s together understand fluoride toothpaste benefits and how much is too much when it comes to our kids.
What exactly is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in the earth’s crust, found also in soil, air, and water. It is used in toothpaste and added to community water supplies for the following benefits.
- Prevents cavity build-up and tooth decay
- Prevents loss of minerals from tooth enamel
- Reduces oral bacteria and plaque
How does Fluoride work?
Bacteria and sugar that are found in the mouth form acid that breaks down the tooth enamel which causes tooth decay. Fluoride protects and strengthens the enamel so that it does not break down. It also repairs teeth that are damaged by the acid. Fluoride cannot repair cavities, but it can prevent further damage and reverse some tooth decay.
How safe is fluoride toothpaste?
Fluoride is safe, but too much of something can’t be a good thing, right? Just like any other vitamin, too much fluoride does more harm than good. Excess fluoride is not good for anyone below 8 years of age. It can cause enamel fluorosis. This condition is marked by white spots on the enamel of the teeth. Symptoms are usually mild and prevalent mostly in kids who get too much fluoride while their teeth are developing. Be sure to take your child to the dentist when you first notice these patches.
Experts are yet to find life-threatening conditions connected to over use of fluoride. Fluoride poisoning too is a very rare phenomenon if the child consumes a lot of fluoride in a short time period for example eating tooth paste or excessive fluoride supplements.
How will I know if my child is getting enough fluoride?
Simple, talk to your dentist. Just follow your dentist’s advice on how much fluoride your child needs and whether they need to take any supplements. If you are aware that your area gets drinking water with high levels of fluoride, talk to your doctor if you should switch your child to bottled drinking water. Even mouth rinses which have fluoride in them should only be given if advised by your dentist. Lastly, kids under 6 years of age should be supervised while brushing or using mouth rinses to avoid any incident of swallowing.
In conclusion, fluoride is safe for children, but parental supervision and regular visits to the dentist, (at least twice a year) ensures that your child’s oral health is secure.